Montenegro in talks with EU on Chinese loan refinancing

PODGORICA (Montenegro), April 27 (SeeNews) – Montenegro’s Minister of Economic Development Jakov Milatovic has said his country is in talks with the European Union for the potential refinancing of a € 1 billion loan ( $ 1.2 billion) from the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank), Croatian media reported.

“Negotiations are underway with China to delay the repayment of the principal, which should begin in the summer of 2021. We are also negotiating with the European institutions to refinance this loan with cheaper European loans,” said Milatovic, public broadcaster. Croatian HRT. in an interview on Monday.

Last month, Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic called on the EU to help the country repay the loan in a measure intended to limit Chinese influence.

“In the event of a dispute with the Chinese, the Montenegrin parliament does not arbitrate. According to Chinese courts, if China is not satisfied with the payment dynamics, it can demand payment of the full principal. not happen, they could take the port of Bar, part of our territory, maybe even our railways, ”HRT said citing Milatovic.

EU spokesman Peter Stano said earlier this month that the bloc will not repay Montenegro’s debts to third parties, but is concerned about the social, economic and financial effects of some of the Chinese investments . Brussels’ position caught the attention of EU rapporteur for Kosovo Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, who said the decision to refuse to support Montenegro in repaying the loan does not appear to be a smart one. strategic point of view, because the new government of the country must clean up the financial heritage of leaders like Milo Djukanovic.

In 2014, Montenegro signed an agreement to take out a loan of $ 944 million from China’s Exim bank at an annual interest rate of 2% and with a six-year grace period for the construction of a highway. which would link the port of Bar to the border. with Serbia.

“Credit represents a third of our debt,” Abazovic told the EU’s Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament in March.

($ = 0.82729 euros)

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